Music: Getting to Know Rossini

Opera's great comic composer had a serious side

The popular impression of Rossini as a composer of comic operas has not changed much since Beethoven. "Give us more Barbers," the mighty German is supposed to have advised the young Italian, and succeeding generations have endorsed Beethoven's opinion. The creator of Barber of Seville, La Cenerentola and L 'Italiana in Algeri is usually considered a deft musical comic whose work sparkles with wit and high spirits.

There is another side to Rossini, one that his contemporaries knew well but that is now being rediscovered. This is the serious Rossini, the composer of such dramas...

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